Tag Archives: agenda 2020 essay competition

Agenda 2020 Essay Competition #22: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

The party ran an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was in November and the winner was announced at Spring Conference. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected] This one ended up on the shortlist, as Essay #9. It was mine. It dawned on me that I’d never actually published it on here and, as I’m currently en route for a week in the gorgeous Highlands, now seems to be a good time to let you read it. True to form I wrote it in about half an hour and submitted it about 10 minutes before the deadline.

The most important thing about being a Liberal Democrat today is that it is not a spectator sport. Liberalism is under threat from the politics of blame, fear and isolationism. Everyone who believes in freedom, social justice and the need to look after our planet needs to roll up their sleeves and live those values in every aspect of their lives. We need to find ever more creative and effective ways of countering the forces that threaten liberty, scapegoat groups of people and perpetuate inequality.

At the core of our belief, uniquely, is respect for the individual. Enforced or even encouraged conformity makes us weep. Our optimistic view of humanity drives us to create the conditions for all to thrive. While education is the cornerstone of human development, we understand it’s difficult to learn without food and shelter. We will stand up for the rights of those who don’t conform to society’s norms and will challenge attitudes which impose an oppressive expectation of behaviour. Unless it harms others, let it be.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #21: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party has been running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was in November and the winner was announced at Spring Conference. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

Some things do not change. Liberalism is always, everywhere, about freedom. Historically this was freedom from – from political or religious authority; from the king, the church, or foreign power. In the west many such freedoms have been won, or rewon. But, though freer, are we free from want and sickness, custom and convention, from the pressure of the norm, from worry, fear and hate, from ignorance and prejudice? There are many battles still to be fought.

The test for a liberal is always freedom for an individual, not a sect or class, nor group nor gender – but freedom for the person, however they term themselves. We judge our freedoms by ever-changing benchmarks; as each summit is reached we see distant horizons, further freedoms beckon. Gaining political freedom, we seek social, sexual, economic freedoms now. We are ambitious for our selves. We treasure personal liberties. Being free, growing in freedom, is a process, not an achievement; a journey, not an ending.

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What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Choose the Agenda 2020 Essay competition winner

As part of the Agenda 2020 project to restate our values in a way that’s relevant to the modern world, the party ran an essay competition in the Autumn. Members were asked to submit 1000 words on the subject “What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today?”

Out of what is described as a “huge” number of entries, the party has shortlisted nine.

You can read them and vote for your favourite here.

We don’t know who the shortlisted applicants are – we just have their words to choose from. So, if you’re on the shortlist, no cryptic clues in the comments, please.

What’s in it for the winner?

The competition winner will be invited to speak to our Agenda 2020 consultation session at spring conference, have their essay published on the party website and in our party magazine, and be presented with a copy of John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, signed by Tim Farron.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #20: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Wars, family experience and deafness helped me be a Liberal.

For me, to be a Liberal Democrat today means making sure we don’t go back to the world that scarred my parents generation. We do have reasons for hope. We need to gather all our strengths to give life to that hope.

My parents lives gave me a lot to think about. They had to deal with terrible events, as best they could. To make a positive difference however small and futile it may seem.

My mother was Lithuanian. She experienced life under both Stalin and Hitler. Active in the anti-Nazi resistance, then a refugee fleeing the Soviet advance. In the last months of WW2 she was a slave labourer on a German farm. When my dad met her she still had the marks of whippings visible on her back.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #19: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party has been running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was last Monday. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

My name is Frieda. Today, Friday 16th September 2016, I took the plunge and joined the Liberal Democrats. I want to explain why.

My name may sound a little unusual. My mother is Danish, that’s why. She met my stepfather while he was working in Aarhus, my mother’s home town, for an energy consulting firm involved in wind turbine projects. It wasn’t long before they moved back together to Fleetwood – on the Lancashire coast – with me in tow! That’s where I spent my teenage years. Dad kept visiting Denmark for some time, until his firm finally went out of business last year (more of that later). I went up to Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts just last year.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #18: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party has been running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was last Monday. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

As one of the post-May 7th new members you keep hearing about, being a Liberal Democrat today may have different connotations to me when compared to others in my adopted family. For me it is to be involved in a movement that is far greater than myself. One that celebrates individuality and stands up for the minority. The tagline of “Opportunity for Everyone” resonates in me as it is how I picture how I would want a Government to serve its people.

When one compares all of the main parties of British politics you are met with extremes of the political spectrum. There are some arrogant parties on one side wanting isolation from the rest of the world while only focusing on how they can increase monetary gain. On the other end you have the socialist parties pushing for an unambitious society that does not reward ambition or innovation.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #17: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was yesterday. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

I’m not going to tell you what it means to be a Liberal Democrat. I’m going to tell you what it means to be a Liberal.

Party fortunes come and go, but the Liberal Project is proud list of social achievements which have improved the lives of of millions of people across the world since the time of the Enlightenment. It’s a tradition of thought that aspires to create a world that is always better than the one in which we live, and for that reason it is fundamentally optimistic and looks to empower the best of human nature. Our capacity for compassion and empathy, generosity, rationality, forgiveness and the knowledge that while any person is still oppressed by injustice of any kind, I myself cannot be truly free.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #16: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was yesterday. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

We live in exciting times. After years of apparent inertia a new wave of interest in and engagement with politics is sweeping across Europe. Movements like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain have shown that the people are tired of the old neoliberal consensus and are searching for Progressive alternatives. However the far right movements have also seen some traction and for every positive surge in a good direction there is also a counter surge towards the extremes.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #15: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions was yesterday. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

To be a Liberal Democrat is to believe in freedom.

Freedom grounded in real life, starting with people as they are. Not ‘The People’. Not ‘Our People’. Freedom based on the unique worth and potential of every individual person, and the understanding that the person who knows best how to live their life is themselves.

Liberal Democrats feel in our guts that everyone should be free to live their own life, that pushing people about and telling them what to do or who to be is wrong. We feel in our guts that everyone should have a fair chance, that prejudice and lack of opportunity are wrong. We feel in our guts the need for a better future, that piling up today’s problems for our kids to deal with tomorrow is wrong. But politics isn’t just about gut feelings and protesting when things aren’t right. We must look at how things really are to work out how to change them, and change our own methods if experience shows us better ways to achieve our ideals. So Liberal Democrats are principle-led, but evidence-based.

Liberal Democrats believe freedom needs both positive help to make it real for everyone, and action to break down barriers to freedom such as poverty, ignorance and conformity. Education is the single most crucial way to combine both. A great education ensures everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential, whatever their background, whatever their choices. Every child getting the best education is central to them growing up with the freedom to live their own lives. If you’re for every person, and you want every person to have the ability to ask the important questions and make their own informed decisions in realising their own dreams, education is where it starts. If you want an economy growing and succeeding with innovation and creativity and where the most talented get ahead instead of just the most wealthy, education, training and apprenticeships are where it starts.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #14: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is TODAY. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

Or tomorrow, for this must be about lasting values.

Above all, to be a Liberal Democrat is to serve liberty. Some are satisfied liberty is won if the state does not interfere in their lives, no matter how much overmighty corporations or bullying conformity may direct them. For some liberty is an absence of rules, so everyone is free to sail around the world, though many are sunk in poverty and illness. For some liberty is enjoyed by nations or corporate bodies collectively. For us a nation may be independent, but if its people are individually unfree, there is no freedom.

To us freedom is individual freedom. It does not matter who or what prevents you realising your potential: whatever it is, it makes you unfree. Ultimately, it’s pointless to categorise freedoms – economic freedom, social freedom, intellectual freedom. It all comes down to what you can do and what you’re prevented from doing for any reason. The measure is personal liberation.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #13: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is TODAY. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

To be a Liberal Democrat today is to feel a little lonely!

But whilst the British people may have temporarily forgotten it, our values are still the basis of the British way of life.  Tolerance, meaning live and let live, because without tolerance I am not free to live how I want to live.  Liberty, meaning personal freedom, because being free to strive for a better life is the best guarantee of progress.  Democracy, because it remains the best guarantee of liberty.

Add to this the lessons of Liberal Democracy as lived in Britain since the end of empire.  Live within your means, as anything else destroys your future.   Place pragmatism before ideology, because the British are a wonderfully pragmatic people who care not about left or right, only about the most successful way of getting things done.  Equality before the law is your birth right, but never try to engineer equality in society,  you’ll fail because people are infinitely more complex than the lives you see them live.  Instead devolve power and decisions as low as you can afford, tempered only by the security and liberty of your neighbours.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #12: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is TODAY. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

For me, it means what it meant in 1986/87 when, in the early years of Secondary School, I was taught about different electoral systems. The Modern Studies teacher explained the ins and outs of First Past the Post and alternative forms of Proportional Representation.

I pointed at PR: “I support that, and the people who support that.” I said.

It means what it meant in 1992 when I cast my first General Election vote. Still  politically naive (despite many hours of listening to Radio 4 over the years prior: the demise of Thatcher, the election of Major, through the first Gulf War and the scrapping of the poll tax…) but knowing that I wasn’t Tory (I had seen how Tory policies has decimated large parts of Fife, with pit-town upon pit-town in ruins) but also that I wasn’t Labour – even though, in those days, Labour votes in Dunfermline West were weighed not counted.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #11: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

For me, being a Liberal Democrat today implies sympathy with and a willingness to work for the following beliefs.

LIBERTY comes at the top of the list, with the John Stuart Mill constraint that we are free only to do what doesn’t harm others. This means that we value variety, welcome people with different cultures and religions and believe that diversity enriches society.  We resist unjustified and indiscriminate state surveillance into our private lives.  Where the preservation of liberty clashes with our other beliefs, such as equality, then we try to put liberty first.

In the fields of EQUALITY AND WELFARE, we believe that all individuals should be equally valued as human beings.   Hence we believe that the state has the dual function of both preventing some people becoming too rich (by progressive taxation) and providing a generous safety-net for the poor, so that all have the ability to reach their potential and participate fully in the norms of  the one society.    We believe access to a social security safety-net sufficient to secure a decent standard of living is a right.  In the past we have favoured a citizen’s income and may well do so again.

Faith in DEMOCRACY is at the root of our values. Liberals Democrats believe that people can be trusted. (Both Conservatives and Socialists alike believe at heart that we need to be coerced).  We want to see parliamentary reform, so that the people’s representatives have genuine control over the executive; reform of the electoral system by the introduction of proportional representation by single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies; an elected second chamber representative of the nations and regions, to which power will have been devolved; and vital local government.  All political power should be exercised at the lowest possible level.  We are devolvers, not centralisers.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #10: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

Completely by chance, I’m writing this in the very house David Lloyd George lived and died. I’m here on a retreat for a few days, but had no idea of the history of the house when I booked. Almost one hundred years ago he became leader of the Wartime Coalition. Yes, another coalition, and then as now, not good for the Liberal Party. More importantly for my purpose here, he was the one of the architects and founders of the modern welfare state, worked closely with Keynes to formulate economic policy, and in his final vote in the Commons in 1943, condemned the government for their failure to back the Beveridge report.

It wasn’t easy to be a Liberal then, and history shows the decline of the party during that period and subsequently, though Lloyd George maintains a reputation as one of our finest Prime Ministers. Certainly, it isn’t easy to be a Liberal Democrat now. Some write us off, only 8% of the vote, only eight seats in the House of Commons. Still, that represents over two million voters, more than the SNP, a considerable franchise.

Consider also that the 2014 British Social Attitudes Survey found more young people than ever have liberal attitudes. So the recovery of a Liberal Democrat party isn’t a hopeless case. But as what sort of party? As one standing for vague centrism, more economically competent and less scary than Labour, but kinder than the Conservatives? No, we’ve seen where ‘equidistance’ got us in May. We were so busy trying to straddle the middle ground our legs got further and further apart until the electorate kicked us firmly where it hurts. We must also avoid the revisionism which blames it all on nasty Lynton Crosby frightening our voters away at the last minute, complicit with the SNP threat to the Union. Doubtless this exacerbated our disastrous performance, but the situation was pretty dire already – 10 of our 11 MEPs lost in 2014 and thousands of councillors over the last five years.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #9: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

As a Liberal Democrat my first belief is in freedom

Freedom from poverty
Freedom from poor health and education services
Freedom to live in decent housing
Freedom to marry who we like and worship how we like
Freedom from sexual discrimination
Freedom from crime and terrorism
Freedom to live our lives how we like whilst having respect for the freedom of others
Freedom from exploitation, particularly by large multi national companies with no social conscious and others with vested interests
Freedom from over bureaucratic government control, but having sufficient government protection in place to protect our freedoms

As a Liberal Democrat I am an environmentalist

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Agenda 2020 Essay #8 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

It starts with you.

It starts with you and your family.

It starts with you and your family and your friends.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society and your world.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society and your world and your future.

It starts with you.

It’s not about doing it for you. It’s certainly not about doing it to you. It’s about giving you the power to do what you want for yourself.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #7 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

libby on the wall3Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

I did the most terrible thing, which I regretted. I left the Liberal Democrats a few years ago during one of the controversies triggered by Baroness Jenny Tonge. In the coverage of the Middle Eastern situation, what was left out was the Israeli children running the gauntlet of bombs on their way to school, which at the time was not mentioned in the news reports here in the UK. Jews here in the UK were very upset. I was getting increasingly embarrassed, wondering why I was in the party.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #6 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderEditor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

To be a Liberal Democrat today is a bit like being part of an endangered species. We no longer appear in the media, opinion poll ratings are still low, and we are treated as a former political party. It was ever thus.

In my nearly fifty years as a member of the Party I have seen our fortunes ebb and flow regularly. This is our third dive to the bottom. We have always managed to come back up, and I believe we will do so again.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #5 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderEditor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected]

What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today to me is to promote three basic, yet fundamental, principles to help place in people’s hands the tools they need to make the most of their lives: Freedom, Democracy and Community. I believe that, when achieved, a person can reach their full potential and in turn can help others reach their full potential too.

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Agenda 2020 Essay #4 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected] 

Liberals by their very nature are people with inquiring minds who want to know as many facts as possible about whatever it is we are considering.

You will rarely see a Liberal reading say the Daily Mail or Daily Mirror because they are little more than propaganda sheets to us. We don’t like our …

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Agenda 2020 Essay #3 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected] 

I am a Liberal Democrat because I have a sense of justice. Justice means everybody getting a fair chance without the playing field being tilted against them throughout their lives. Justice does not mean everyone being treated the same all the time. Equality before the law is a sine qua non, but equality …

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Agenda 2020 Essay #2 What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected] 

To be a Liberal Democrat today is to be tilting at windmills. After decades of being the wasted vote, we broke into coalition government. Then we collapsed. But the need for Liberal Democrats is more pertinent than ever.

Ignorance: The Cycle of News

Whichever paper I am reading, the same themes return again and again: that public trust has collapsed, that few people believe that politics has the power to deliver change, and that our society is divided between the nihilistic, the apathetic, and the outraged. With every case of child abuse, each random murder, every scandal of public expenditure, the news asks ‘What are the politicians doing about it?’ The government replies, and the opposition scoffs. The news cycle begins again.

The news wields Occam ’s razor as a maiming instrument. Issues of dynamic complexity are boiled down to yes-or-no answers. Questions are posed to politicians which no-one could answer, and when the politician stumbles it is held up as a triumph of journalism or a failure of political leadership. If the politician replies with nuance, he has avoided a straight question.

Our media landscape is dominated by duality: by left and right, us and them, yes and no, right and wrong, government and opposition, Conservatives and Labour. The pace of television news has accelerated and amplified the basic conflict our constitution is predicated on: the two party, first past the post system. This is carried over to the online world where debates between nuanced and considered comment pieces are hijacked by the us-and-them narrative in the comment section.

The glut of news belies our ignorance of government.

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Agenda 2020 essay #1: What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today

Editor’s Note: The party is currently running an essay competition for members of the Liberal Democrats, to submit 1000 words on the theme “What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today.” The deadline for contributions is 2nd November. If you would like us to publish your submission, send it to [email protected] 

What it means to be a Liberal Democrat today, to me, is about fairness, equality and freedom.  Freedom for all us to be who we wish to be and to develop our talents to the full.  Equality that no matter who we are, our origins, our abilities or disabilities, we are given equal voice and valued equally in society.  Fairness is about combatting structures in our society which promote the few over the many, so that all are enabled and empowered.

To be truly free is not a singularity.  It happens in relationship. Being a Liberal Democrat is about being in relationship: we are stronger together than we are alone.

WE are the world.  Not me.  Not I.  The rise of individualism, and the emphasis of individual freedoms without the context of relationship, has brought us to this point.  The 21st century is a self-serving society.  What is best for me?  What can I achieve?  How much more money can I make?  The emphasis on me, me, me is a losing ticket. Me can only win if WE are at the forefront of policy and decision making.  

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